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Standard vs. Graduated Repayment Plan

Would you rather save now or save later?

Updated

Fact checked
The Standard and Graduated Repayment Plan for federal loans are very similar, but with one key difference: Standard repayments give you the same fixed repayment each month, while graduated repayments start low and increase every two years. If you can afford the Standard Repayment Plan, you’ll save the most in interest. But if it’s stretching your budget and you think you’ll earn more later, the Graduated Repayment Plan might be the way to go.

How these federal repayment plans compare

Standard Repayment Plan Graduated Repayment Plan
Best for... Parent and student borrowers with job stability and enough income to comfortably afford repayments Parent and student borrowers who earn too much money to qualify for an income-driven repayment plan, but are struggling with standard repayments
Eligible loans
  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
  • Direct Parent PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans
  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • FFEL Graduate PLUS Loans
  • FFEL Parent PLUS Loans
  • FFEL Consolidation Loans
  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
  • Direct Parent PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans
  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • FFEL Graduate PLUS Loans
  • FFEL Parent PLUS Loans
  • FFEL Consolidation Loans
How much you pay
  • Same fixed repayments — with a minimum monthly payment of $50
  • Repayments start low and increase every 2 years
Repayment Term
  • 10 years for most loans
  • 10 to 30 years for Direct or FFEL Consolidation Loans
  • 10 years for most loans
  • 10 to 30 years for Direct or FFEL Consolidation Loans
Eligibility requirements
  • Eligible loans
  • Eligible loans
Eligible for forgiveness at the end of the term
Eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Required to reapply each year

No

No

Pros
  • Save on interest
  • Get out of debt faster
  • Predictable repayments
  • Low starting repayments
  • Get out of debt faster
Cons
  • Repayments don't adjust with your income
  • Higher monthly repayments
  • Repayments don't adjust with your income
  • Higher repayments later in life
Learn more
Learn more

You can learn how these two compare to other ways to pay off your federal loans by checking out our guide to repayment plans.

Interested in refinancing instead? Compare your options

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
Discover Private Consolidation Loan
Good to excellent credit
$150,000
2.80% to 12.49%
Splash Financial Student Loan Refinancing
660
None
Starting at 1.89%
Save on your student loans with this market-leading newcomer.
Credible Student Loan Refinancing
Good to excellent credit
None
1.99% to 9.24%
Get prequalified offers from top student loan refinancing providers in one place.
Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinancing
680
None
2.39% to 5.99%
Lower your student debt costs with manageable payments, affordable rates and flexible terms.
Earnest Student Loan Refinancing
650
$500,000
1.99% to 5.64%
Get a tailored interest rate and repayment plan with no hidden fees.
SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (with Autopay)
650
Full balance of your qualified education loans
2.25% to 6.09%
A leader in student loan refinancing, SoFi can help you refinance your loans and pay them off sooner.
Purefy Student Loan Refinancing (Variable Rate)
620
$300,000
2.27% to 7.49%
Refinance all types of student loans — including federal and parent PLUS loans.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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